[Newell]

Kansas Newspaper Co-Owner Dies Following Unprecedented Raid by City’s Entire Police Force – Seized Computers and Equipments to Protect Prominent City Figure

A horrific attack on freedom of the press!

Joan Meyer, the 98-year-old co-owner of the Marion County Record -a weekly newspaper published in Marion, Kansas- tragically passed away after an unprecedented police raid on her home and the newspaper office on Friday.

The city of Marion’s five-officer police force, along with two sheriff’s deputies, conducted the raid on the Marion County Record’s office and the home of owner and publisher Eric Meyer. The shocking operation left Joan Meyer, Eric’s mother, and co-owner of the paper, dead, and has been characterized by Meyer as an assault on press freedom.

Joan Meyer, newswoman since 1953 (Source: Kansas.com)

The raid came on the heels of a bitter feud between the Marion County Record and a local restaurant owner, Kari Newell. The newspaper had reportedly acquired sensitive documents potentially leading to the revocation of Newell’s liquor license. These documents included evidence of drunk driving convictions and operating a vehicle without a license.

While the paper decided not to report the story, it did notify the police about the documents, suspecting they were leaked by someone close to Newell’s ex-husband.

In response, Newell publicly accused the paper of illegally obtaining and disseminating the information. The newspaper published a story to clarify its position, but this was quickly followed by Friday’s raid.

The search warrant against the Record authorized the seizure of a wide array of items, including computer hardware and software, digital communications, cellular networks, servers, hard drives, utility records, and documents related to Newell. Specifically, the warrant focused on the ownership of computers that could be involved in the alleged “identity theft of Kari Newell.”

During the raid, police not only seized computers and internet routers from the Meyers’ home but also dug through Eric Meyer’s personal bank and investment statements. Joan Meyer, waiting for a Meals on Wheels delivery at the time, reportedly watched tearfully as the police conducted their search. The distressing event left her unable to eat or sleep, contributing to her death, according to the newspaper.

In addition to Joan Meyer’s death, one of the newspaper’s reporters was injured when an officer grabbed her cellphone out of her hand.

Despite the outcry and the tragic outcome, the Marion Kansas Police Department has defended its actions. They claim that federal protections did not extend to the journalists, as they were suspected of criminal activity.

In a statement per New York Post, the department emphasized its commitment to ensuring justice, stating, “The victim [Newell] asks that we do all the law allows to ensure justice is served. The Marion Kansas Police Department will [do] nothing less.”

More from Marion Record:

A two-page warrant signed by Magistrate Laura Viar was given to the Record at the time of the search.

Marion vice mayor Ruth Herbel’s home also was raided at the same time.

The warrants alleged there was probable cause to believe that identity theft and unlawful computer acts had been committed involving Marion business owner Kari Newell.

A Record reporter later requested a copy of the probable cause affidavit necessary for issuance of the search warrant

District court, where such items are supposed to be filed, issued a signed statement saying no affidavit was on file.

County attorney Joel Ensey, whose brother owns the hotel where Newell operates her restaurant, was asked for it but said he would not release it because it was “not a public document.”

Eric Meyer, 69, the Record’s owner and publisher, has vowed to seek legal retribution against the City of Marion and those involved in the raid. Legal experts consulted by the paper reportedly agree that the city violated federal laws and the team’s Constitutional rights.

Legal experts contacted by the Record termed the raid unheard of in America and reminiscent of what occurs in totalitarian regimes and the Third World.

The Record is expected to file a federal suit against the City of Marion and those involved in the search, which legal experts contacted were unanimous in saying violated multiple state and federal laws, including the U.S. Constitution, and multiple court rulings.

“Our first priority is to be able to publish next week,” Meyer said, “but we also want to make sure no other news organization is ever exposed to the Gestapo tactics we witnessed today. We will be seeking the maximum sanctions possible under law.”

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